8 Ways to Tackle Anxiety While Re-entering Society
Reentering society post-quarantine is beginning to take place, as many areas have started to reopen and return to a new state of normalcy. Staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks are the new social norms.
Yet, a lot of us don’t feel entirely comfortable being around a ton of people. With a potential second-wave on the horizon, there is some legitimacy to these fears. Re-entry anxiety is all too real.
You might feel uneasy spending time in public or anxious about the idea of sitting on a patio with others for hours on end. These are completely normal feelings. There are also various ways you can feel safe during these still uncertain times (more on this in a bit!).
What is COVID Anxiety?
COVID-19 anxiety is becoming a common feeling. You haven’t been out in crowds or around a large group of people for months. You almost forget how to socialize normally, and feel awkward and anxious. You worry about getting COVID or feel uneasy around other people.
You are not alone on this! Millions of people are feeling the same across the world.
Another key ingredient here is that COVID is far from over. The risk is still present. In other words, your re-entry anxiety is completely normal and justified. The best you can do is give yourself the space you need to ease back into social or public situations. So, how can you do that?
Related article: Anxiety: Why It’s More Than Just Worrying
Re-entering Society Post-Quarantine
“Strange times” doesn’t even begin to cover how this pandemic is impacting our health. It’s doing so in more ways than one.
Many of us have been isolating alone. Surprisingly, loneliness is considered the silent killer. In fact, research on loneliness indicates that those who feel more socially isolated are more likely to experience health problems and early death.
This is why it’s beneficial to slowly begin to socialize again, as long as it’s done in a safe way. It can provide beneficial effects for your mental and physical health, helping you feel the best you can.
8 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety When Re-entering Society
With that in mind, here are 8 ways to tackle that post-quarantine re-entry anxiety and boost your overall health.
1. Go Slow
Easing into it doesn’t mean heading to your local patio filled with loads of strangers. Start with something small - such as a social distancing walk with a friend. This is known as exposure therapy.
This technique is frequently used by a therapist to help someone tackle and conquer their fears. It’s where you are exposed to your fear within a safe and controlled environment. You start with a little bit of exposure and slowly build.
While it’s still not recommended to go into public spaces for unnecessary reasons, you can use this approach to getting more familiar with the new normal inside public spaces. You can be brave and safe doing so.
2. Bring Hand Sanitizer and a Mask
Along with exposure therapy, bringing proper safety tools can go a long way in reducing your anxiety. Plus, a mask and hand sanitizer will not only put you at ease, but they are also protecting you from contracting COVID or spreading it.
So, start making these two items a staple part in your pocket or bag. They can help prevent the spread, as well as help reduce any feelings of re-entry anxiety.
3. Have a Go-To Mantra
Mantras for anxiety can help calm you and avoid your anxiety from reaching a breaking point or freezing point. A good one right now is “This too shall pass.” Everything is temporary. Know this, breathe, and feel this.
You can choose really any phrase that helps calm you. Use it when you need it. Aim to repeat it to yourself in your head or out loud until you feel better.
If your anxiety is coming from a place of extreme empathy for the world, you can also try some mantras for grief in order to process and face the emotions you are feeling inside before reentering society.
4. Re-Enter with a Buddy
If you don’t live with someone, find a friend who may be experiencing similar feelings. Ask each other questions about what would make you feel more comfortable. By encouraging each other you are also helping each other by giving yourself situations where you both can slowly begin to feel comfortable to socialize with one another.
No matter how you choose to ease in, always ensure you are upfront and honest about how you’re feeling with the people around you. Don’t be shy when it comes to your health, if something doesn’t feel right, let them know. Out of anyone, they’ll understand.
5. Keep Social Distancing
It’s tough in some situations but use your patience. Remain at least two meters apart and stick with this whether you’re on the street or at the store. If you feel that you are too crowded, excuse yourself to an open area to refocus.
This can help quench any anxiety you might be feeling when around people, while also slowly helping you get back into some much-needed social time. So, keep doing social distancing walks and video chatting. It all comes down to whatever you feel the most comfortable with.
6. Focus on What You Can Control
Some things are just out of your control. But you can’t let these things guide your life and actions.
Yes, COVID is a real threat, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that it is incredibly hard to be isolated, it can be impossible to live without social interaction. Many of us have experienced how this feels as of late. And most of us can agree, it doesn’t feel particularly good. Humans are social creatures.
Instead, turn your attention to what is within your control. Focus on some of the above tips, such as keeping your distance, using hand sanitizer, and rocking a face mask.
7. Practice Deep Breathing
Our thoughts can run away from us and physiological responses - like a racing heart and shallow and quick breathing - can quickly arise.
In order to prevent breathing issues make sure you test your mask before going out and make sure that it is not restricting your breathing, once you feel confident, it’s time to go!
If you notice this starting to happen in public, take a deep breath. Fully take in all the air you can, counting to four. Then, slowly let it all out. Do this at least five times. Notice how your heart begins to slow and you begin to calm down. Use this technique when your anxiety begins to amplify.
Try this breathing exercise: Breathwork for Positivity & Peace
8. Talk to a Pro
The silver lining in all of this? Mental health help has never been more accessible than now. Especially as the conversation shifts to more accessible care from our homes. You don’t even need to see your therapist in person anymore, there are video therapy sessions and telehealth options for you to explore. If you are comfortable with online therapists, you can have your therapy appointment right within the comfort of your own home (even in your PJs if you so choose!).
Start Today With One Small Step
The sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits associated with human interaction. You want to keep your own boundaries and feelings in mind. At the same time, life is beginning again.
Take the proper precautions but also ease back into it. And most importantly, be kind to yourself. This year hasn’t gone the way any of us thought it would. It’s all about taking one small step at a time and doing the best you can.
We’re in this together. Read Living With Anxiety During a World Pandemic next.